Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hard Boiled (1992)


After the death of his partner in a teahouse shootout, Inspector "Tequila" Yuen (Chow Yun-Fat) takes a personal vendetta against Chinese gun runners. Meanwhile troubled undercover cop, Alan, or Tony depending on your translation, (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) finds himself caught in the middle of a gun smuggler war.

John Woo's 92 followup to his legendary action film The Killer is more action packed, with some of the most visually creative fight scenes of all time. Coming in at just over 2 hours, the film is composed of 5ish gun fight scenes, all of which add up to about a hour and a half of the film. This leaves about 30 minutes to character development and story... but when the end credits roll you'll find you never really cared about those at all anyways. The film's gun fights are so insanely visually stimulating they almost reach a poetic status, each one filled with over the top shots, a series of cool stunts, and Woo's stylistic slow motion.

As far as characters, the two stars don't have a lot of depth to work on, and are instead forced to bring about their characters in quiet moments in between fight scenes. Their character is best shown via Woo in the way they deal with killing. Tequila, given that name due to his heavy drinking, plays jazz music at a local bar with his former boss (John Woo in a cameo role). On the opposing side Alan makes origami birds, something he hates doing, as a form of self punishment for each of his kills. Together the two create a badass duo who have to work together to take down the gun smuggling army of mobsters.

The fight scenes are really the films bread and butter. Insanely creative, though not always fluid, it's almost impossible not to get caught up in the scenes. Especially considering the last 45minutes of the film is one elongated action scene taking place at a hospital. This is both the greatest, and weakest, element of the movie. While the fight scene is intense, fun, and at times insightful of the characters, it drags on forever. In fact it's basically 3 fight scenes rolled into one long moment. Though action junkies will find nothing to complain about, Hard Boiled is an action film that takes the word "action" seriously.

While it is not perfect, Hard Boiled is a non-stop, petal to the metal action film with some of the most creative gun fights ever put in front of the camera.

2 better thoughts:

Lemmy Caution said...

Sure, not perfect.....but it's tough to do better when you are looking for gritty action with actual choreography. Seems like most action flicks now edit the scenes so tightly and haphazardly it's tough to tell what the hell is going on. Woo shows it to you nice and slow....and makes it look damn good.

Anh Khoi Do said...

"This leaves about 30 minutes to character development and story... but when the end credits roll you'll find you never really cared about those at all anyways."

Well, I myself couldn't have said it better to describe the fact that Hard Boiled is too action-oriented. Besides, this is the reason why The Killer will always be my favourite film from John Woo. However, while not as brilliant as the script of The Killer, Hard Boiled's script gives you the essential thing that you have to know about the characters and get to the climax as quickly as possible.

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